8/13/2014 7:45 P.M. ET
Hardy expects to return to lineup this weekend
By David Wilson / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- J.J. Hardy's sprained left thumb continues to improve incrementally, and by the weekend, he should be back in the Orioles' lineup. But for Wednesday's series finale with the Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards he remained sidelined.
"Came in today, had a bigger improvement and real positive about the way it feels," the shortstop said.
Hardy has been sidelined since Sunday, when he was scratched about a half-hour before the start of the O's series finale with the Cardinals. He injured the thumb a day earlier when he slid into St. Louis catcher A.J. Pierzynski at home plate. Ryan Flaherty has filled in at shortstop in each of the past three games.
Hardy received an MRI on the thumb on Tuesday that came back clean, confirming the sprain. He'll continue with treatment on Wednesday and during Thursday's off-day, and expects to return during this weekend's series against the Indians.
"Play it by ear if we're going to do any baseball activity tomorrow, but I'd like to, and my goal is to be on the field in the Cleveland series," Hardy said. "Not sure which day."
Hardy's injury comes at a time when a remarkably healthy Baltimore infield has suddenly been bitten by the injury bug. Third baseman Manny Machado was placed on the disabled list with a right knee sprain on Wednesday, leaving Chris Davis to start at third base. When Hardy returns to the starting lineup, Davis will be able to return to first base as Flaherty or Jonathan Schoop can move over to third.
Davis puts himself in No. 2 spot, O's go with it
BALTIMORE -- Every day since Chris Davis joined the Orioles three years ago, the slugger has placed his magnetic name card somewhere nonsensical on the lineup board outside the clubhouse. Sometimes he's playing the outfield. Other times he's pitching and batting ninth.
On Wednesday, he used one of those familiar jokes. Davis made himself the No. 2 hitter.
"And today was the first day in three years that I actually put my name in the lineup and they just filled the lineup in around me," Davis said. "Hard work and determination does pay off."
With Manny Machado, the usual No. 2 hitter and third baseman, heading to the disabled list, the O's opted to let Davis slide right into that role. Davis will move back across the diamond from his usual first base and move up from his usual No. 5 spot in the order to bat second.
Davis had never started as a No. 2 hitter and was 3-for-5 with a home run in his career in that spot entering Wednesday. When Machado went down with a right knee sprain during Monday's 11-3 win against the Yankees, manager Buck Showalter used Davis to replace him. Davis went 2-for-3 with a home run.
"It was the first time I had two hits since I don't know when, that's bad," Davis said. "So I think, like I said, Buck's trying to keep the lineup in the same spot it has been all year. Try to keep things the same."
Davis took some early work at third base before Wednesday's game to prepare for a return to his old position. He's played third base four times this year and played 38 games there with the Rangers in 2008, so it won't be a new adventure. Nor will it likely be an extended one. When shortstop J.J. Hardy returns from a left thumb sprain this weekend, either Ryan Flaherty or Jonathan Schoop can move to third and Davis can go back to first.
As much as anything, Davis and the Orioles hope a change can be a spark for the struggling All-Star. When Machado went down, teammates told Davis, who was batting .197 with 21 home runs and led the American League with 139 strikeouts entering Wednesday, "There's hits in the two-hole."
"Don't be scared to put me in the two-hole," Davis told Showalter. "Apparently there's hits there."
Showalter took his advice.
"Be careful what you ask for, young man," Showalter said.
Orioles call up versatile Phelps from Triple-A
BALTIMORE -- With Manny Machado going to the disabled list and J.J. Hardy sidelined with a left thumb sprain, the Orioles needed to bring a versatile infielder to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Wednesday.
The O's purchased Cord Phelps' contract from Triple-A Norfolk and placed Machado on the DL with a right knee sprain. Phelps, who played seven positions for Norfolk, is viewed as a second and third baseman for Baltimore whose versatility is a nice perk.
"We have a lot of good options there," manager Buck Showalter said. "We take a lot of stock in what our people there every day tell us. That sounds very uncomplicated, but maybe it isn't done in a lot of places. Doesn't matter if you're on the roster or not on the roster, or what the financial commitment is. We're taking the best player."
Phelps was hitting .258 with seven home runs for Norfolk this season and has played especially well since the start of July. At the end of June, his batting average was all the way down to .219, but he's hit .336 since.
Phelps also has a bit of Major League experience. He hit .159 in 113 at-bats over three seasons with the Indians. The O's travel to Cleveland for a three-game series on Friday.
"I did look at the schedule and I noticed that was the first trip," Phelps said. "That'll be cool. Hopefully, I get in there and take a few from those guys."
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.